Father Joe said I should write every day – it should be a discipline – a spiritual practice. Ann Lamott says something similar in her book Bird by Bird: do you work every day.
I have these alternately crazy and serious thoughts about being a writer. I take encouragement from all the people who began writing in their 50s. Actually, I think they had been writers for a very long time and were ‘discovered’ in their 50s. I started my blog thinking I would like writing in that way – but as we can see by the dates, my commitment has been lacking something.
As I watch the last months of my 50s slide away, I wish to live the writing life for 30 days. That is to say, follow both Father Joe’s and Annie’s advice and cautions. Both warned of discouragement and wishing to be done and ignoring the process. It takes a commitment to accept that this will happen and continue writing daily anyway.
The thought of writing papers was the biggest hurdle for me when I decided to go back for my Master’s Degree. I managed to sneak by in high school because I’d had the lead in the class play and the English teacher gave me lots of slack on my last minute two page paper on witchcraft.
I was able to sneak by as an undergraduate because Music Performance majors were evaluated by the musical performance (which had it’s own stresses) rather than by pages of elucidated, educated exegises on erudite topics. Oh, I wrote papers (can I say write?) at the Olympic typewriter the night before they were due. Minimal. Cursory. Uninteresting. A bane to the professors who assigned them, I’m sure.
Basically, I was unschooled and unprepared for the writing required for a graduate degree.
In my only class that initial semester, I approached my first paper assignment with fear and trepidation: 1 paper, 50% of your grade, literature review in APA form (what it that?). When accosted for an explanation, my eye-rolling counseling professor suggested I seek out the University Writing Center. I labored, I toiled, I wrote, I corrected, I formatted, I reviewed, I went to the damn Writing Center EVERY week working on that assignment. At Thanksgiving, I quizzed my niece who was the editor of her college newspaper on how to write a paper. (thanks, Mac – you helped me so much. I still have the cheat sheet you gave me). I was going to get an A in this first attempt at graduate school. It was going to be the proof of my authentic call to become a Marriage & Family Therapist.
The paper was returned to me with the comment “This is excellent content, but it is not a Lit Review – B-“. I was crushed.
But I aced the final (3 hours, 5 essays) and did well in the presentation project (I’m still good at performance) and got an A- for the class. *Whew* My call to the profession remained intact.
To my amazement, and with thanks to all the professors who commented, the patient writing center staff members, the interested librarians, and my family, I actually finished my many papers as well as my thesis, and (here it is: ) I grew to enjoy the process mostly.
So it is with a renewed sense of purpose and with faith that 30 days might make a difference, I commit to and begin my holy practice of 30 days of writing. (OMG – I did 575 words!)